Santa’s stereotypical surprise

Before we move beyond the subject of Christmas movies, there was one tucked away on our shelf that I had forgotten about. This may be a good thing, though watching it could also be illustrative of how things have changed in the last 60-plus years.

When our son was little, someone gave us a video cassette of three Christmas cartoons that were originally made in 1947. One was called “Santa’s Surprise.” It’s a sweet story about children from around the world pulling together to do something nice for Santa when he returns to the North Pole after a busy Christmas Eve.

When we first watched it with our son more than 20 years ago, our initial thought was, what a nice message about grateful children giving back to the good soul who had given so much to them.

Then we noticed the well-intentioned, socially-acceptetable-in-1947-but-not-in-modern-times gaffe.

Stowed away in Santa’s sleigh were children representing the continents of the world—each in his or her ethnic stereotype, complete with contrived, exaggerated dialects and background music. Just guess which child laundered Santa’s clothes? And which one shined Santa’s boots?

Needless to say, in 1990, we tucked this video away in the far corner of the cabinet, preferring to play what we as parents considered more enlightened portrayals of the world’s citizens. Yeah, like Mr. Bean?

Anyway, for instructive and historical purposes, have a look at “Santa’s Surprise” for yourself. If you don’t have eight minutes, fast forward to the 2:42 mark.

Then maybe you can help your children thank the esteemed Mr. Clause in his or her own way.

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Filed under Holidays, Movies, Television and Radio

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